The Invasion of Kuwait refers to a two-day-long operation conducted by Iraq starting on 2 August 1990, whereby it invaded the neighbouring State of Kuwait, consequently resulting in a seven-month-long Iraqi military occupation of the country. The invasion and Iraq’s subsequent refusal to withdraw from Kuwait by a deadline mandated by the United Nations led to a direct military intervention by a United Nations-authorized coalition of forces led by the United States. These events came to be known as the first Gulf War, eventually resulting in the forced expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait and the Iraqis setting 600 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire during their retreat (see scorched earth strategy).
In early 1990, Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi petroleum through cross-border slant drilling, although some Iraqi sources indicated that Saddam Hussein’s decision to attack Kuwait was already made a few months before the actual invasion. However, a variety of speculations have been made regarding the true intents behind the Iraqi move, including Iraq’s inability to pay the more than US$14 billion that it had borrowed from Kuwait to finance the Iran–Iraq War, and Kuwait’s surge in petroleum production levels which kept revenues down for Iraq. The invasion started on 2 August 1990, and within two days, most of the Kuwaiti military was either overrun by the Iraqi Republican Guard or retreated to neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Immediately following the invasion, Iraq set up a puppet government known as the “Republic of Kuwait” to rule over Kuwait, eventually annexing it outright, when Saddam Hussein announced a few days later that it was the 19th province of Iraq.